THREE preserved Maori heads will be returned to New Zealand after decades in a Glasgow museum.
The heads are believed to have belonged to Maori chiefs killed in battle in the 19th century. Together with a thigh bone, they were accepted in Glasgow by a party from Wellington's Te Papa Tongarewa museum, and will return to their homeland at the weekend.
The remains had been donated to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, but were never put on show to the public. Even today, only the crates into which the remains had been packed were on show.
The Te Papa is a government-backed museum, charged with preserving and presenting the taonga - treasures - of New Zealand's people.
James Te Puni, of the museum, said yesterday: "These are the remains of the dead ancestors of someone. They will be someone's great-great-grandfather back in New Zealand, so it's important that they be returned home."
Councillors in Glasgow voted last year to repatriate the remains, following requests from the Te Papa.
John Lynch, the convener of the city's cultural and leisure services committee, said: "The return of the remains to their native culture is the right thing to do. We believe that, as with other pieces we have repatriated, these remains are returning to their rightful home."